January 20th, 2012
Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune
Interview: Director Kenneth Bowser

Emmy Award nominated director Kenneth Bowser explains why he chose to make a documentary about Phil Ochs, why he seems to have been written out of the history of folk music, and the unique way that Ochs’ music marries activism and his personal life.  Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune premieres Monday, January 23 at 10 pm on PBS (check local listings) and Sunday January 22 at 7:30 pm in New York.

  • Beth

    Thank you, Mr. Bowser for creating this documentary on Phi Ochs. Since the 1960s, I too have been a devout fan of Mr. Ochs’ music and the man himself. Given his contribution to the 60s movement and his glorious music, I found it troubling, even baffling that he would be largely forgotten or generally ignored. I hope this spreads the word, spawns renewed interest so his music can live on through future generations.
    Many, many thanks. Beth

  • Steve Friedman

    Thank you for making this moving documentary. Phil Ochs was one of the very first folk singers that I listened too and he became my hero. Until now I only knew the songs, but not the man. Thank you for making him flesh and blood for me.

  • Kathy

    I agree wit Beth: “troubling, even baffling that he would be largely forgotten or generally ignored”

    I was so educated and moved by this. I was saddened and inspired. He was written out not because of his personal reasons as the filmmaker says, because he chose the political benefit over the entertainment.

    I can’t thank Mr Bowser enough for this film.

  • Jan Rosenberg

    Phil Ochs’ music was also a part of the musical background of my life. His songs were messages
    that rang loud and clear and informed many of us about the true issues of the times we lived in.
    Also, he was an amazing lyricist. Listen to Pleasures of the Harbor and Crucifixion. Incredible symbolism and poetry in those lyrics.
    I loved him then and I still listen to him now. How unfair that he was not given his due and how happy I am
    that Mr. Bowser made this film. There is a wonderful biography of his life titled “Death of a Rebel” by Marc Eliot. Very well written and informative.

  • Tara

    Thank you for this wonderful documentary. I was a young child in the 60’s, but for as much 60’s music as I listen to, I’d never heard of Phil Ochs! What a shame! I tuned in because I remember his name referenced in a Bobby Kennedy book. What awesome lyrics! What poignant songs! What a tragic loss. I hope his music is on iTunes so I can hear a lot more.

  • Viewer

    Very interesting documentary. But I didn’t understand why there was next to no information about Ochs’s early life, marriage, and child.

  • Vera

    After watching this documentary, I took some time to browse what people are blogging. Over and over I found writers — not yet born during Phil Ochs’ lifetime — who discovered his music through someone else’s cover. The writers took the time to explore Phil Ochs’ body of work and through that had become fans. They point to Ochs’ craftsmanship of the music, expert use of lyrics, and especially how his activism played out in his music. By and large the writers are unbiased about how Ochs died, expressing, instead, a general sadness that Ochs made the choice he did. Occasionally writers do point to his bipolar disorder as an inspiration to them because they also have it. Among those who have seen this documentary, some question why more information was not given in to the U.S. government’s role in Ochs’ career/life/death. And almost to a one all of them ask WHY Phil Ochs’ music has been kept from them.

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